Today I am going to talk about wellness. Not wellness in the since of man’s physical health, but in his social wellbeing. What better way to describe mans social development then looking at the history of beer? Beer has made an impact on man’s social and economic condition since the dawn of time. Let’s start with ancient history, shall we?
Historians speculate that prehistoric nomads may have made beer from grain & water, even before learning to make bread. Between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, some humans discontinued their nomadic hunting and gathering and settled down to farm. Grain was the first domesticated crop that started that farming process. From the Gilgamesh Epic, written in the 3rd millennium B.C., we learn that not only bread but also beer was very important. The Gilgamesh Epic describes the evolution of man from primitive to one that is cultured. Enkidu, an unkempt, almost beast like primitive man, wanted to test his strength against Gilgamesh. Taking no chances, Gilgamesh sent, women, a prostitute, to Enkidu to learn of his strength and weaknesses. She taught him about their civilization and about bread and beer which he had never known. She told him to ‘Eat the bread now, O Enkidu, as it belongs to life. Drink also beer, as it is the custom of the land.’ Enkidu drank seven cups of beer and his heart soared. In this condition he washed himself and became a human being.
Babylonian clay tablets dated as far back as 4300 BC, detail recipes for beer. Beer was such a vital part of their civilization that it was produced in large quantities, of at least 20 different varieties, and was so valued that it was sometimes used to pay workers as part of their daily wages. Egyptians brewed beer commercially for use by royalty and medical purposes and was considered the most proper gift to give to the Pharaohs, and even offered as a sacrifice to their gods, and included in their burial provisions for the journey to the hereafter. Egyptian texts from 1600 BC contain 100 medical prescriptions calling for beer. It was even a sign of betrothal if an Egyptian gentleman offered a lady a sip of his beer. Wow, glad I didn’t live back then; I’d be married to quite a few!
As you now can see, beer played an important part in the social wellness of man through the ages. Even today with the advent of brew pubs man can gather together share stories, meet new friends, and make business deals. Microbreweries are springing up all over the country and more and more beer enthusiasts are brewing beer in their own home, sharing with friends and loved ones. This hobby the whole family can take part in. Maybe if more families made beer together there would be less broken homes. I might be wrong, but it’s something to think about.